Village feud comes to head over access road

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 October, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 October, 2009, 12:00am

It's bad enough to be publicly singled out as being barred from using the main access road to your village, but when this is accompanied by nuisance phone calls seeking sex and your name being written on toilet walls it adds insult to injury.

That is what five families claim has happened to them in the latest in a series of disputes to come to light in Sai Kung villages where haphazard development, complex ownership and a lack of public roads often leads to private land being used for access.

The owner of the road leading into Kwun Hang village says the families have been singled out for 'disrupting village harmony' and denies having anything to do with the calls or toilet-wall inscriptions.

But the families say that since May last year female relatives have been receiving up to 30 nuisance calls a day soliciting sex and asking the price. The women found their names and contact numbers had been written on the wall of the men's public toilet.

'The number of nuisance calls is not what troubles me most. What upsets me most is I feel that I am demeaned when I receive calls soliciting sex,' said one of the women, Ho Suk-ping, a Democratic Party community officer, who moved in about two years ago.

The sign, erected in November last year, says 'residents of this village are welcome to use this private road' except for the five families whose cars were 'strictly banned'.

Miranda Hui, whose name is first on the list, said that when she first saw it, 'I was numb'.

'I was prevented from [using the road] long before the sign was erected but I feel a bit uncomfortable that my privacy was intruded upon.'

Both sides agree the latest developments stem from a long-standing dispute over parking in the village that led six years ago to a member of the family that owns the road landing in court on an extortion charge.

Villagers say officials who have been asked to mediate promised to build a public access road a year ago but the vow has not been realised yet.

The row came to a head on Tuesday when decoration workers working for Miranda Hui were denied entry. She called police, who tried to mediate but could not help.

Wendy Hui, daughter of the landowner, a Ms Wong, said her family decided to ban the families because they disrupted village harmony.

'They organised illegal meetings with a small circle of friends to discuss things that would destroy the harmonious tradition of our village,' she said.

'I know nothing about the nuisance calls. My family has nothing to do with it. They should report to the police and should not make any ungrounded guesses. If they are so good at making things up, I recommend them to become writers.'

The women said they had had reported the calls to police, who could offer little help because the calls were made with unregistered SIM cards.

Wendy Hui also alleged that one of the five, Chan Hin-yung, took up many of the public parking places in the village with more than four school coaches. As he had exploited other people's right to use the parking lots, her family decided to bar him from using the access road.

But Chan, who has lived in the village for 18 years, said there were more than 40 parking spaces available and he had moved his coaches to a car park nearby.

He also said the Hui family imposed the ban on the five families after they refused to pay a fee for parking on a government parking lot.

Wendy Hui confirmed that her younger brother had been convicted of blackmail at Sha Tin court in 2003 after demanding money for parking.

High Court records of an unsuccessful appeal against the conviction show that in March 2003 Hui Chi-yan demanded 'a few hundred dollars' from two residents to park their car, saying, 'If [you] want to park your car, you have to ask me for a place', and cars parked there 'would be broken sooner or later'.

Ordered to perform 100 hours of community service, his appeal was dismissed after the judge ruled he had not shown the conviction was inappropriate. 'What my brother did has nothing to do with me,' Wendy Hui said. '[The five families] can't say that because my brother did that so the rest of my family are also involved in charging people for parking.'

An unpaved, muddy road provides alternative access but the families say the Hui family has been blocking them from that road too.

Chan produced a video showing Wendy Hui blocking his way as she talked on her mobile phone, ignoring his requests to move.

Village head Wong Cho-sang also said the families had disrupted harmony in the village.

'We can't deny the fact that the access road involves private land. The five families are at loggerheads with the landowner - the landowner has reason to bar them from using it.'

Meanwhile, residents of the village - home to 200 people - are said to be split over the proposal to build a new public road.

Wendy Hui said many indigenous villagers opposed it, saying it would damage the village's fung shui and environment.

Wong said most residents opposed it, but an indigenous villager, also surnamed Wong, said he and 70 other villagers had written to the Home Affairs Department in June supporting it.

A Home Affairs Department spokeswoman said its Tai Po District Office had been keeping in touch with the villagers.

She said a proposal to build a new entrance next to the private land in dispute was raised last year but was scrapped in March after it met villagers' opposition.

Residents of two Sai Kung villages have also been blocked from using access roads over private land since last month.

The only access road at Kei Ling Ha San Wai Village was blocked last Friday after construction workers, said to be working on the orders of a landowner, put concrete barriers on it and fenced it off.

The fence had been removed yesterday but the concrete blocks remained.

Early last month at Ho Chung Village a developer started building a house over the only access road, forcing some residents to leave their cars outside the village and trapping others inside.